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Nuisance hedges legislation report 11/09/2017 Overgrown hedges remain an issue because legislation is not always being used as effectively as it could be, according to a Holyrood Committee.

Nuisance hedges legislation report

Overgrown hedges – causing some to “live in the shadows” – remain an issue in Scotland because legislation is not always being used as effectively as it could be, according to a Holyrood Committee.

The High Hedges (Scotland) Act came into force in 2013 with the aim of resolving neighbourhood rows as a result of giant hedges that interfered with the enjoyment of homes, gardens and local environments. The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee recently examined the Act, and set out key recommendations in a report.

During evidence sessions, the Committee heard of some extreme cases where neighbours removed every alternate tree in order to avoid the row of trees or shrubs being classed as a high hedge.

Key recommendations include:

  • The Scottish Government should publish revised guidance setting out that applications should be considered in terms of the impact of the vegetation rather than whether or not the barrier was originally planted as a hedge. In addition, the revised guidance should encourage local authorities to be flexible when considering High Hedge applications, while still adhering to their green space strategies.
  • The cost of the application should be recoverable from the hedge owner where an application has been successful, such that the local authority can reimburse the applicant.
  • The Committee recommends that there should be consistent data collected on the use of High Hedges Act to measure if the Act is effective in the future and that the Scottish Government should take steps to achieve this.

“Our Committee heard directly from homeowners across Scotland, and many of them spoke of the serious impact high hedges had on their quality of life. Some even said they felt they were forced to live in the shadows because of hedges blocking natural light to their homes. Quite clearly, if someone’s life is made a misery from blocked out light this must be addressed,” said Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, Bob Doris MSP. “While there are examples of the High Hedges Act working well for communities, it’s clear that it’s not currently operating in the full spirit as was intended. For example, we found that some local authorities dismissed applications as they deemed a row of trees or shrubs to be a ‘non-hedge’ despite the detrimental impact on homeowners.”

The report can be found here.

 

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